RoadTripSports.com/College Football America Associate Publisher
Bachelor of Arts (Journalism), Stephen F. Austin State University
Looking at a list of the many places Chuck Cox has lived, you could forgive the guy if he wanted to just kick back, put his feet up and stay in one place — for the rest of his life.
But Cox, an associate publisher for RoadTripSports.com and the College Football America Yearbook, never stays in one place for too long.
“I have lots and lots of wanderlust,” Cox says. “The more I travel, the more I want to travel. It’s so amazing to get to see other places and faces all across America.”
Cox saw a lot of those places and faces growing up first as a young a child in a military family and then as an older child in a single-parent household with his ambitious mother, Claudette.
“My mom’s job with an apartment management company required her to move every year or two,” Cox says. “It was tough on me, but I was really proud of her.
“She moved up the ranks of her company after starting as an assistant manager at a complex where we lived in Austin. Mom never attended college, but she worked extremely hard as a single parent to make sure I had that option. I know she was really happy I was able to earn a bachelor’s degree.”
Cox was born on April 25, 1969, in El Paso, Texas, and it was just a few weeks later that his father, Tommy, was transferred to Killeen, Texas, uprooting the family for the first time. The moving van, however, was just getting warmed up. The Coxes eventually bounced from Killeen to Whittier, Calif.; Alexandria, La.; Austin, Texas; and Phoenix.
At this point, Cox’s parents divorced, and the next move would take him back to Austin this time with just his mother. It was here he started high school before hitting the road again to Katy, Texas; Bedford, Texas; and, finally, Longview, Texas, where he stayed long enough to graduate from high school.
The moves kept coming after high school, though, including stints in San Antonio, Texas; Kilgore, Texas; Nacogdoches, Texas; Center, Texas; Palestine, Texas; Nacogdoches again; Austin again; Tyler, Texas; and, finally, his current home of Dallas, Texas.
You would think a kid who was forced to move so often might not have been anywhere long enough for it to feel like home, but on the contrary, Cox feels very connected to several of his childhood locales including the one where it all started.
“We moved from El Paso a few weeks after I was born,” Cox says, “but it’s still a place that very much feels like home to me.”
“I’ve always thought El Paso is a beautiful place with a very old school vibe. Going to downtown El Paso is a bit like stepping back in time which I find fascinating. But it’s the diverse culture, landscape and proximity to Mexico that really make it a unique and special place.”
With the city’s beautiful mountains providing part of the scenic backdrop, it’s a special place to Cox for another reason.
“The Sun Bowl is one of my absolute favorite settings for college football,” Cox says.
With Cox’s childhood basically being a road trip all on its own, he somehow managed to form lasting connections to several other places that still feel like home whenever he pays a visit. Austin, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Longview are on the list, but there’s one that stands out above the rest.
“If I had to go with one, I’d probably have to settle on San Antonio,” Cox says. “From the moment we moved to the Alamo City in 1988, not long after I graduated from high school, I just fell in love with the place.
“I always get sentimental — that kind of lump in my throat — when I go down there to visit and cheer on my Spurs. The Alamo, the River Walk, the Hill Country nearby … it’s just so hard to beat.”
Ah, yes, the Spurs. His Spurs. Having lived in or near so many major metro areas, you might expect Cox to have some very divided loyalties, and he does admit to still having a soft spot for the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks with one clear caveat — he pulls for them but only when they aren’t playing his Spurs.
“I got to see the George Gervin-era Spurs play in Phoenix way back when,” Cox says. “I also got to see the Spurs play a home game in the 2005 NBA Finals.” Not to mention the dozens of games that have accumulated dating back to when he lived in San Antonio and now including the Spurs’ annual visits to Dallas through the years he has lived in Big D. And, yes, those regular road trips back to the Alamo City.
While Cox’s love for the black-and-silver runs deep, his first love when it comes to sports was baseball.
“Baseball is the only sport I ever played, so I have a deep connection to it,” Cox says. “I played tee ball and little league for two or three years. My dad also took me to Angels and Dodgers games when we lived in Whittier which really sparked my interest in Major League Baseball at a very young age.”
That love carried over to the Texas Rangers when he first moved to the Dallas area in 1985, but there was another team in the Metroplex that he had always kept an eye on, too.
“Living on the West Coast as a kid, I was a San Diego Chargers fan during the Air Coryell days,” Cox says. “But I have always loved the Dallas Cowboys. I vividly remember being aware of Coach Tom Landry, Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett early in my childhood. In the late 1970’s, just about everybody on the Cowboys’ roster was a household name where I lived.
“I also remember the Dallas Police Department’s Cowboys trading cards they handed out to kids way back then. That star on the helmet has always been one of the coolest things ever, in my opinion.”
One of his biggest moments as a pro football fan came on February 6, 2011, when Super Bowl XLV was played in Arlington at the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium. Cox was there that day as the Green Bay Packers handed the Pittsburgh Steelers a 31-25 loss.
“Seeing the Steelers lose on the Cowboys’ home field was quite satisfying,” Cox says with the unflinching pride of a Cowboys’ fan who grew up in the ’70s. One who still hasn’t forgotten two bitter Super Bowl losses to those same Steelers.
It was somewhere just before his first move to the Dallas area that Cox began to dabble in journalism. He took a journalism class as an elective when he was a sophomore, and then ended up on the staff of his high school newspaper, The Panther’s Paw, during his senior year at Longview’s Spring Hill High School. Although he graduated with no clear idea on what to do next, without knowing it at the time, the seeds of his future career path had already been planted.
“It took me a while to really get started with college,” Cox says. “I knew I wanted to do something in sports so I pretty much decided writing about them would be my best route.
“College was when I really started to figure out it was something I was good at and thoroughly enjoyed doing.”
He had two pretty good mentors during his two collegiate stops — a two-year stint at Kilgore College studying under Bettye Craddock and his final two years at Stephen F. Austin State University under the tutelage of Pat Spence.
“These two women had a tremendous influence in shaping me into a writer and a journalist in addition to being my second and third moms,” Cox says, “and I love them both dearly.”
Cox continued to sharpen his skills as a sports writer during those years taking whatever assignments he could land.
“I covered a lot of high school football as a freelancer in college,” Cox says, “so I had a good feel for what it was like to work on a deadline. I loved being able to tell people what happened in a game, and especially to get to know athletes and coaches and tell their stories. It was a pretty easy decision for me. To this day I have no idea what I’d be doing if I wasn’t a writer.”
Being a writer has taken on even more meaning for Cox in recent months as he put the wraps on his first novel late last year. “A Matter of Life and Death in Texas” will be released in 2017.
“I had the idea for this book probably 20 years ago,” Cox says, “but the idea of shopping it around to a publisher was just not something I was interested in doing.” Instead, Cox will self-publish the book through the same platform that gave life to the College Football America Yearbook.
“With Amazon’s Create Space, I can get it out there digitally and physically via print on demand,” Cox says. “My goal was to be able to say I did it and that I’m happy with the finished product.”
While he doesn’t currently have any plans to write another book in the near future, Cox is a firm believer in the concept of “never say never.” In the meantime, he’s got plenty of writing projects to stay busy with including a day job at Academic Partnerships that involves writing. And then there’s a little writing gig he has as one of the featured storytellers at the National Football Foundation’s Football Matters.
“I will never take for granted the fact that I get to write for a living,” Cox says. “I feel blessed each and every day to be able to have a career doing what I love.”
That includes one more little side job as one of the Associate Publishers of the aforementioned College Football America Yearbook.
“We started off with a free PDF download of the book on our website,” Cox says. “To think about where we were then to where we are now is mind-blowing. Even though our name is not yet widely recognized, we’ve made a lot of headway in becoming part of the college football landscape.
“In terms of coverage, I don’t think there’s a whole lot more we could do. There’s always room for improvement, but I don’t think there’s a publication that covers its sport any more thoroughly than we do.”
Ironically, when it comes to the yearbook, Cox is most proud of his contributions to the book that go beyond the written word.
“I took one photo class in college and shot maybe one football game throughout my career before we started the publication,” Cox says. “I’m by no means a great photographer now, but I have several shots I am very proud to have taken.
“Getting to see journalism from a different perspective has been fascinating, and in some ways, I believe it has made me a better writer.”
As a kid, Cox had no choice but to follow wherever his parents took him. Sometimes it was a new hometown; sometimes it was a return to a place he had called home before. Either way, new places and new faces were a way of life, but despite the odds, Cox put down roots in some of those places that reached deeper than the time spent there would suggest is possible.
These days, those roots are deeper than ever as Cox has lived in the Dallas area since 2001. In 2003, he married his beautiful wife, Betsy, in Las Vegas, and ironically, it would end up being the last time he saw his mother who passed away shortly thereafter. But Claudette Cox passed along a healthy dose of ambition that lives on in her son, and in addition to his full-time job and all of his other side gigs, Cox is also a music writer. He might be the biggest music fan you’ve ever met, in fact, attending more than 100 concerts in some recent years while writing about it in “The Front Row,” his music blog at RandHSports.com.
Above the surface, however, there’s still a bit of that wide-eyed kid inside Cox anxious to get to the next new destination and break free from any roots. Wanderlust is a tumbleweed, after all — no roots to hold it in place and a destination that’s less of a certainty than the journey itself. Each fall, that wanderlust drives Cox to explore new college football destinations in his role with RoadTripSports.com and the College Football America Yearbook. His love of the sport has deep roots, too, but like that tumbleweed, he could end up just about anywhere once the season kicks off.
“My dad took me to (University of Texas) Longhorn football games when we first moved to Austin in the 1970’s,” Cox says, who continues to follow the Longhorns in addition to his two alma maters, Kilgore College and Stephen F. Austin State University. “Once I started at Kilgore (College), I got more into college football, and once I started visiting different stadiums all across the country, I was hooked.
“College football, to me, has the entire package of everything I love in sports, which is why I will always keep coming back for more.”